Jeffrey Brian Burton
(born June 29
in South Boston, Virginia
) also sometimes referred to as "JB" is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
driver. He drives the #31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet
for Richard Childress Racing
. He also races part-time in the Nationwide Series
driving the #29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet
. Jeff Burton is the younger brother of Ward Burton
, who is a fellow Sprint Cup driver. Married to Kim Burton, they have two children, Paige and Harrison.
Burton began driving a handful of races in the Busch Series in 1988 in car number 69 owned by his father John Burton. He competed in the full season for Busch Series Rookie of the Year in 1989 in the Burton Autosports Pontiac
#12. In 1990, he drove the #12 Armour Lower Salt Bacon Buick
for the legendary Sam Ard
. He moved to J&J Racing's #99 Armour/Food Lion Chevrolet
in 1991 for one year before moving on to Filmar Racing owned by Filbert Martocci
where he would drive an Oldsmobile
sponsored by TIC Financial Systems
in 1992, and a Ford
sponsored by Baby Ruth
in 1993. Burton would later make his first Winston Cup
start in 1993 in car #0 owned by Martocci. He currently shares the #29 Holiday Inn
Chevrolet with Scott Wimmer
. In 2007, Burton won five races (Las Vegas Motor Speedway
--March, Atlanta Motor Speedway
--March, California Speedway
--September, Lowes Motor Speedway
--October, and Homestead-Miami Speedway
--November). In addition to the five victories he also won the 2007 Busch Series Owners Championship for Richard Childress.
Sprint Cup Series
Burton ran his first Winston Cup race in 1993 in the #0 TIC Financial Ford
for Fil Martocci
. 1994 was Burton's rookie year in the Winston Cup Series. He drove the #8 Raybestos Ford for Stavola Brothers Racing
. After five races, he reached a season-high 14th place in the overall standings, but by the end of the year he dropped to 24th after being disqualified at the Miller Genuine Draft 400
for illegal holes drilled on the roll cage, a safety violation. He had a season-high fourth place finish on the way to earning 1994 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
. He was one of a record-high ten rookies eligible for the award that year, besting a class that included future Cup stars Joe Nemechek
, Jeremy Mayfield
, John Andretti
, and older brother Ward
. The next year, in 1995, Burton had one top-five, along with a ninth place finish. He also missed three races and finished 32nd in points.
In 1996, Burton left the Stavola Brothers for Roush Racing. Driving the #99 Exide Batteries Ford for his new team, he finished 13th overall in the season standings despite failing to qualify for the Purolator 500 in March as a new team (provisionals in the first four races were based on 1995 points, and Burton's team did not have points from 1995). His career hit a peak from 1997 to 2000, as he never finished lower than 5th in the points standings. He achieved his first career win in 1997, finishing first in the Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (the inaugural NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway), and would go on to win 14 more races during the four-year run. In 1999, Burton won a career-high and series-leading six races, including the Jiffy Lube 300 for a third straight year, and clinched two of the series' four majors (Coca-Cola 600 and the 50th Annual Southern 500), which would lead to a fifth-place finish in points. His best points finish was in 2000, when he finished 3rd, 294 points behind champion Bobby Labonte. On September 17, 2000, Burton led every lap of the Dura Lube 300 sponsored by Kmart at New Hampshire International Speedway. From 1997 to 2000, Burton won an event at NHIS every year. The following year, in 2001, Burton won another two races, upping his career total to 17, as he finished tenth in points.
In 2002 and 2003, he finished 12th and combined for 8 top-5s and 25 top-10s, but failed to win a race in either year. After sponsor Citgo
announced it was leaving Roush Racing at the end of 2003, Burton ran the 2004 season without a primary sponsor, with races frequently being sponsored by his personal sponsor SKF
. Rumors began to arise that Burton would be leaving Roush Racing. After originally denying the rumors, it finally happened in mid-2004 when, just before the Sirius at The Glen
, Burton signed a three-year contract with Richard Childress Racing
(RCR), leaving Roush after eight and a half years with the team. He would drive the #30 America Online Chevrolet for the rest of the season. Before the change, Burton had an average finish of 20.8 and was 23rd in points. In the 13 races after he changed teams, though, the same stats were improved to 16.6 and 18th. During the offseason, Burton and his team remained with RCR but were switched to the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy, replacing Robby Gordon
2005 was a bit of a struggle for Burton. While many people expected him to end the win drought, it did not happen. Burton had six top-tens and three top-fives for the year, including a third in the Subway Fresh 500
at Phoenix in April. In late August, during the Sharpie 500
at Bristol, Burton had what appeared to be the best car in the closing laps, reeling in Matt Kenseth. A wreck set up a green-white-checkered finish
in which Burton continually stuck to the bumper of the 17 car, but couldn't complete the pass. He finished second. At the end of the year, strong finishes allowed the #31 Cingular team to carry momentum into 2006.
In 2006, Burton won the pole for four races, bringing his total number of career pole wins to six. The four pole wins were for the Daytona 500, the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Prior to qualifying for the Daytona 500, Burton was extremely enthusiastic about the improvements to RCR as a whole. He proved this by winning his first pole since September 2000 at Richmond. The Allstate 400 pole gave Richard Childress Racing the front row as teammate Clint Bowyer recorded the second fastest time. Burton's best finish came in the Chicagoland race where he recorded a second place finish. He led the most laps at Indianapolis and Bristol's Sharpie 500, setting the pace for more than half the race. In the Busch Series, he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway, breaking his four year long winless streak in any series. After the race at Richmond International Raceway Jeff qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. During the Chase, Burton won the Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway, breaking a 175-race winless streak dating back to October 28, 2001, allowing him to take the points lead. However, a series of relatively poor finishes in subsequent races all but eliminated Burton from contention for the championship.
Jeff Burton won the Samsung 500
) on April 15
, driving the Prilosec OTC
Chevrolet, passing Matt Kenseth
on the final lap, making him the first driver with multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway. He later went on to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, he finished tied for 7th in the 2007 standings.
Despite a strong start to the 2007 season, Burton faded down the summer stretch. Despite finishing in the top 10 five of the last six races Burton still finished 8th in the final standings. Jeff Burton also won NASCAR person of the year award.
Jeff Burton came very close to winning his first Daytona 500
, the 50th running of "The Great American Race." He qualified 36th and by the end of the race had worked his way up in the field. He led prior to the race's final caution, but when the green flag dropped with four laps to go, lost several positions and wound up finishing 13th.
Burton won the 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Following contact between Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, Burton passed both Harvick and Stewart for the 2nd position. On the ensuing restart Burton passed Denny Hamlin coming off of Turn 2 to win the Food City 500.
Craftsman Truck Series
Burton has 4 career Craftsman Truck Series
starts, all of which came in 1996 for Roush Racing
. In the #99 Exide Batteries Ford
, Burton collected 1 top-5 and 3 top-10 finishes with a best finish of 4th at Nazareth Speedway
AT&T sponsorship controversy
Cingular Wireless began its sponsorship of the #31 Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series prior to 2004, when NEXTEL purchased the naming rights to NASCAR's top division. Cingular and Alltel
, sponsor of Ryan Newman's #12 Dodge, were allowed to stay as sponsors under a grandfather clause
. In early 2007, following its purchase by AT&T, Cingular began a rebranding effort to the AT&T Mobility brand. NASCAR quickly claimed that a clause in their contract with Sprint Nextel would not allow Cingular to change either the name or brand advertised on the #31 car.
After trying and failing to persuade NASCAR to approve the addition of the AT&T globe logo to the rear of the car, AT&T filed a lawsuit against NASCAR on March 16, 2007. On May 18, AT&T won a preliminary injunction and, following a failed emergency motion for a stay by NASCAR on May 19, rebranded the #31 car in time for the Nextel All-Star Challenge that evening. NASCAR was later granted an appeal to be heard on August 2.
On June 17, NASCAR announced it had filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against AT&T and would like AT&T and all other telecommunications companies out of the sport in 2008. It should be noted that the other rival company involved, Alltel, was in the process of being sold.
On August 13, a ruling by a federal appeals court cleared the way for NASCAR to prevent AT&T Inc. from featuring its logo on Jeff Burton's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
The court, therefore, threw out a lower court's ruling that prevented NASCAR from stopping AT&T's plans. The appeals court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
At first practice for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 24, the #31 car had no AT&T branding, but the familiar orange and black paint scheme. Burton's pit crew wore grey Richard Childress Racing shirts and Burton wore a plain orange fire suit displaying only small associate sponsor logos. The car arrived in a black hauler with only the number 31 on the side. NASCAR officials said the car would not have made it through inspection with the AT&T logos.
On September 7, 2007 NASCAR announced that an agreement had been reached between Sprint Nextel and Richard Childress Racing which would allow AT&T to sponsor the No. 31 car through the end of the 2008 season. Under the terms of the agreement Burton will have to find a new sponsor by 2009. On June 18, 2008, it was announced that RCR had secured sponsorship for the 31 of Jeff Burton. Caterpillar, which previously spent 10 years on the #22 of Bill Davis Racing and with Jeff's brother Ward driving from 1999-2003, has signed a multi-year agreement with Richard Childress Racing to become the new primary sponsor of the 31 starting in 2009.